Chemistry between Jackson Blake and Owen McLaughlin helping UND's top line thrive

Nov. 17—GRAND FORKS — Eight minutes into the second period of UND's series opener against Miami, Jackson Blake spotted Owen McLaughlin cutting backdoor.

Blake made the cross-ice pass. McLaughlin tapped it in for his third goal of the season.

"He was calling for backdoor, and I figured he had a step on that guy. I had a step on my guy, too," Blake said. "So I tried to fake the shot and give it to him backdoor. Fortunately, it worked out."

The assists went to McLaughlin's linemates, Blake and captain Riese Gaber. The goal was just one play that highlights the chemistry between UND's top scoring line.

The trio has a combined 35 points in 11 games.

McLaughlin is on a five-game point streak. Blake recorded his fourth three-point game of the season Friday in UND's 6-4 win over Miami. Gaber, who finished with one point, has tallied at least one point in every game he's played against Miami.

"They play off each other," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Obviously, Riese Gaber adds that shooting mentality on that line, and experience, too, being a senior there. But they're generating because there's some chemistry there. They're reading each other and they made some good plays. They did a good job of giving us some goal support when we needed it in the second."

Part of the reason for the chemistry between McLaughlin and Blake? They're roommates. The bond they have off the ice is transferring to on-ice play.

"I think we just look for each other," McLaughlin said. "We live together so we hang out all the time."

Blake added: "I just feel like we see each other out there. We know where each other are. We're roommates, so we pretty much do everything together. Owen's awesome to play with. I love playing with him."

Blake's shot fake and backdoor pass to McLaughlin shows the connection the two have developed over the past two seasons.

"I was just going to the net. He can put it on my tape from anywhere," McLaughlin said, "so I just put my stick on the ice, and he found me."

Blake picked up a goal in the second period off a deflection. The play was challenged by Miami for a hand pass in the neutral, but the goal stood, because officials determined there was a change of possession before the goal.

"That was crazy," Blake said about his seventh goal of the season. "The puck was just kind of laying there. I think (McLaughlin) tried to pass it to (Gaber) backdoor, but it was just laying there. I just tried to get a stick on it, and fortunately it went in.

"I figured it wasn't going to be a goal just because everyone on the bench was saying that (Abram Wiebe) hand-passed it, but we'll take it."

McLaughlin's increasing confidence is helping the top line succeed.

He's also shooting more. McLaughlin has already surpassed his freshman goal total (two).

"It's hard to make plays if you're not confident in yourself," he said. "The coaches have confidence in all of us, and that helps all of us out."